These days, it can be said that all depositions are local.
How can that be? After all, you and your associate are in Boston
while the witness and opposing counsel are in Los Angeles. The
expert you want on hand is in New York and the paralegal on the
team is in the Atlanta office. You'll all have to go to Los Angeles
to get this witness on the record. How is that local?
With the latest developments in court reporting technology, all
parties in complex litigation can be present when the deposition
starts, without boarding a plane. Everyone, including the court
reporter and videographer - can be connected through Internet text
and video streaming.
Turn on your computer. Open your browser. Log in securely. And
you're there. You are all on the same screen, so to speak, across
geographies and time zones. Every medium - text, audio, video - can
be streamed, viewed and shared.
Internet text and video streaming is a progression of realtime
reporting, whereby attorneys and legal team members follow the text
of the deposition on their computers as the stenographer writes the
testimony. Now, remote parties can attend online, saving travel
costs and reducing time away from the office. As with any realtime
deposition, a rough transcript can be made available for review
until the final is produced and delivered.
Also, the video can be produced on DVD with synchronized text,
the way you viewed it during the Internet video stream. When you
play the video, each line of testimony scrolls as the witness
speaks - capturing demeanor, body language and tone of voice.
Furthermore, you can conduct text-based searches to zero in on
crucial statements, then easily create video clips to import into
trial presentation software.
The deposition in Los Angeles is of the defendant, who is
executive producer of a media company. The similarities between the
defendant's hit video game and your client's prototype are based on
the same premise and too close to be merely coincidental. You need
to establish who owns the rights.
Discovery in the case entails deposing witnesses throughout the
country and in Europe. Depositions are scheduled in Boston, New
York, Austin and London.
To keep costs manageable, depositions can be conducted over
speaker phone. The downside is you can't observe demeanor and body
language. Videoconference is another way to go, requiring lining up
videoconferencing services in all locations. While multi-point
videoconferencing is possible, it isn't always feasible. Cost can
be a factor and traveling to the facility might be inconvenient if
a site is not nearby.
Today, there are more options for matching the right technology
to the circumstances.
Let's stipulate that for this key witness, you'll go to Los
Angeles to take the deposition. The New York-based expert, who has
vast experience in the video game business, can provide valuable
insights based on her knowledge as to how games are developed,
acquired and produced. But round-trip airfare plus hotel,
transportation and meals will drive up costs.
Your paralegal has been on the case from the start and is
indispensable when reviewing documents and catching contradictory
testimony. That's another round-trip ticket. The associate working
with you would like to go, but he is prepping for a trial and can't
afford the time away.
Login: Attend Online
Instead, the associate, expert and paralegal can be at your side
from their respective offices, through Internet text streaming,
coupled with realtime. In addition, the associate will also be
connected via teleconference to be able to ask questions. The
expert and paralegal, however, will not be speaking and do not
require teleconferencing. Rather, they will participate as
observers to monitor testimony. They can highlight statements, make
notes and send private messages to you and the associate, for
example "page 92, line 7 contradicts earlier testimony
- bring this up."
Streaming technology enables the court reporter and videographer
to send text, audio and video from any location to the remote
parties over the Internet. No special software is required.
Participants only need a computer with a high-speed Internet
connection and any popular browser, such as Internet Explorer,
Firefox or Chrome. User IDs and passwords are provided in advance
to log in to the deposition.
PDF Transcripts, Documents always at Hand
As the case proceeds, final electronic transcripts are archived
as PDF files - with searchable word index - in a secure online
transcript repository. Exhibits can also be stored online. Because
they are PDF files, they can be opened instantly with Acrobat
Reader, stored in folders and printed (condensed or full) as
This makes it easy to share with clients and legal team members
without having to worry about compatibility issues. And, there is
no need to scan and create PDF transcript files in-house.
Individual logins are provided to counsel, paralegals and legal
assistants to ensure secure access for all parties.
ASCII text transcript files are available online as well and can
be imported into any litigation support software in use at your
Finally, today it is not unusual for "green-minded" firms to
order electronic files only - reducing consumption of paper and
toner while saving shipping and storage costs. Once the files are
uploaded to the repository, they are always available when you log
in. You can locate transcripts and exhibits years later without
searching through paper files.
Whether it's realtime, video, Internet streaming or
videoconferencing for depositions locally, nationally or worldwide,
court reporting is keeping pace with high-stakes litigation.
Kenneth A. Zais is president of O'Brien
& Levine Court Reporting (www.court-reporting.com),
headquartered in Boston and offering worldwide coverage. He is on
the board of directors of the National Network of Reporting
Companies (NNRC) and is an active member of the National Court
Reporters Association, Massachusetts Court Reporters Association
and the United States Court Reporters Association. He is a former
director and current member of the Society for the Technological
Advancement of Reporting.